The start of every school year is always filled with a lot of adjustments for parents and children alike – but everything takes on an added layer of complexity when the parents are divorced.
It’s a little bit harder to operate like a functional parental unit when you and your co-parent don’t even live in the same home. That’s why it’s particularly important to discuss – in advance – how to handle some common school year emergencies.
Whether your grade schooler suddenly pops a fever before school starts or your teenager comes down with the flu in the middle of the day, sick days are an inevitable part of the school year. You need to have some kind of plan in place so that you and your co-parent can handle the situation smoothly.
That means discussing things with your co-parent like:
- If the child needs to be picked up from school, which parent is best positioned to leave work and either take the child home or go to urgent care?
- If the child needs to stay home, are they old enough to manage on their own or does there need to be a caregiver present?
- If the child is scheduled to transition from one household or another, will their illness necessitate some flexibility in the usual parenting time schedule?
Agree on how you will communicate with each other (and whether the child, especially teens, will be included in the communications) to make sure that your child’s immediate needs are met.
It happens. Maybe the snow started really pouring down overnight and school is canceled by the time everybody wakes up. Or, maybe there’s a water main break that affects the high school, and your child gets sent home for the day.
Either way, you and your co-parent need to be ready:
- Again, is one parent better positioned than the other to handle middle-of-the-day pickups from the school, if necessary? What backup child care is needed, if any?
- If school is called off because of inclement weather, will that also affect any scheduled transition from one household to the other? Who makes that decision?
While communication in the moment may be key to handling these kinds of emergency situations the best, pre-planning can eliminate a lot of potential confusion and conflicts born of frustration.
If you’re just beginning your co-parenting journey, seeking legal guidance can help you spot any gaps in your parenting plans so that you can address them proactively and avoid preventable tension down the road.